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How to Handle Food Allergies When on Vacation


One of the best parts of traveling is the all the delicious local delicacies you get to indulge in. Fruits and veggies local to a new region tend to just taste better. The food, also, changes with all these wonderful options. That said, it’s a major downer when you can’t indulge in these dishes because you have a food allergy. There’s nothing to be done about your allergy, unfortunately, but there are ways to handle it and still enjoy your vacation.

food-allergiesResearch and Prep Before You Book

There are some places in the world that are not as kindly to certain food allergies. Sadly, it could really affect your trip. That isn’t to say don’t go to those regions, but you need to be aware that you’re not going for the food. That’s the reality, unfortunately. For some, this is no big deal, especially if you’re allergy is an everyday issue, maybe it’s just part of life and you’ve accepted it, which is a great attitude.

Still, make sure you know what you’re getting into. Thailand, for example, is a wonderful option for gluten free friends as food is based on rice instead of wheat, even the noodles. But, peanut allergy friends are going to find this handicap a huge nuisance when it comes to this peanut rich cuisine.

After you’ve chosen your destination, do a little research as to what restaurants or markets are friendly to your allergy. Make a list. You don’t have to only go to those places, but it’s good to have a little food-friendly ammunition in your back pocket.

Use the Web

In your research, check out social media sites, travel sites, and general information available about allergies and vacation. Message boards are going to be your friend in this case, as other travelers often report back to help their allergic peers. It’s a good way to know how to handle situations in a strange place, particularly if you’re overseas.

There are a number of apps available now that offer tips about allergy friendly establishments, such as Find Me Gluten Free, and Allergy Eats. Do a little research to find the best one for you. It comes in handy if you’re changing up your itinerary.

Pack Wisely

If you’re highly allergic, you probably carry an epinephrine pen around with you already. When you travel, you should carry several. Bring at least two on the plane, which are allowed as the TSA considers epi pens a medical necessity. Alert security when you go through, and allow time as you could very well get searched, etc. A doctor’s note isn’t a bad idea to bring along.

allergyIn a foreign country, absolutely bring a card along with your allergy, translated into the nation’s language. This is very common and it should be shown to any waiter in a restaurant. It’s not weird or tacky, it’s your health and it’s important. The restaurant isn’t looking to send you to the hospital!

In a pinch, bring many snacks. Almonds, dried fruit, whatever it is that you can eat and tuck in a bag in case you’re dairy free and suddenly find yourself surrounded by cheese. Meal replacement bars a great thing to have handy in case you can’t eat with the locals. Some countries may not carry these, so if you’re traveling abroad make sure you pack a box in your luggage.

Eating Without Fear

If you’re traveling for a while, try visiting a market to get some produce and local wares that you know won’t be a problem. And if you’re traveling with a person who has food allergies, be a good pal and suggest only allergy friendly establishments.

Do you have an allergy story? What are the best and worst countries you’ve visited when it comes to dealing with food allergies?


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How to Handle Food Allergies When on Vacation

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